Few Answers Yet

Few Answers Yet

It was several weeks before Dragon emerged from the conference room where she had been conducting research on the magic ability exhibited by our young neighbor, Marisol. The precocious five-year-old appeared to have extraordinary power. Not only could the child penetrate Dragon’s spell of concealment, observing the illusory stable and horses, she caused others to see through it as well. The child also was able to cause Dragon to revert to her true form from her guise of an elf maiden, allowing others to see the beast.

(If you are a new reader just joining us, or if you missed one or more installments of this latest mystery, here are the links to the previous episodes, in order:
1. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/hello-neighbor/
2. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/just-who-are-these-neighbors-and-what-do-they-see/
3. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/21/what-is-the-problem/
4. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/28/i-see-a-big-problem-here/
5. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/it-was-a-nightmare/
6. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/08/11/what-is-she/
7. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/08/18/jean-rabe-has-done-it-again/ )

Dragon and me in officeI was in my office when Dragon found me. “Mistress, prithee, a moment of your time?”

I looked up from my work and smiled. “For you, as many moments as you need, old friend.” I gestured to a chair. “Why don’t you shapeshift and take a seat?”

Dragon shook her big, scaly head. “I fear I am far too weary to undertake any shapeshifting right now. I must marshal all my strength just to maintain an acceptable size for this room.” She stood next to my workstation, leaning a bit on the desk to steady herself.

I looked at her with concern. “Are you sure you don’t want to wait a bit, maybe rest for a while, or have something to eat? We can always talk later.”

Dragon frowned. “No, I think I should share my information with you first. I am at the point of exhaustion right now. Once I take to my bed, I may slumber for many days.”

I nodded. “Then let’s talk. I presume you have completed your research. Have you determined what power Marisol possesses, and how she comes by it?”

Tendrils of black smoke 2BooksDragon’s frown deepened and tendrils of dark smoke began to drift from her nostrils. She started pacing unsteadily around my small office, her hands behind her back. “The research is as complete as possible. I possess many books on the arcane, mostly from my own world, but some from different worlds. I have found nothing in any of them that would allow me to put a label on Marisol. She is not a witch as we understand the word; nor is she a sorceress, a conjurer, or an enchantress.”

Is she a witch 2

I raked my hand through my hair and sighed deeply. “Then what? Or are you saying the child has no magical power?”

Dragon and me in officeshe is merely the receptacle 2Dragon shook her head so vehemently, she almost lost her balance. Grabbing my desk to steady herself, she explained. “No, the child has considerable power. But she does not wield the power, the way a witch or a sorceress or a magician would. She is merely the receptacle for the power.”

I stared blankly at Dragon.

dragon talkingspellcasting 2The big beast sighed and began to gesture with one hand. “You know how I and others like me perform our magic. We recite an incantation, and we combine specific spell components. We command certain things to happen, such as commanding an illusory horse to appear. We control the magic, and we achieve the result we desire.”

Dragon tilted her head and looked at me expectantly, and I indicated my understanding. “Marisol does not use incantations or spell components, correct?”

The beast gave me a toothy grin. “Correct. She does not control the magic within her. There is no such magic in my world, nor, as far as I have been able to determine, in yours. However, there are similar magics in other worlds. The magic that Marisol possesses might be a combination of a power that in some worlds is known as reactive magic, and another power called causative or influencing magic.”

I shook my head. “You lost me.”

 

Dragon sighed. “This may be difficult to explain.” She started pacing again. “Part of Marisol’s power might be similar to reactive magic.”

reactive magic

Dragon paused, collecting her thoughts. “Her power reacts to the presence of other spells or innate magic, sometimes in unexpected ways. Gaping at the childNormally, such power would allow the possessor to see through illusions. In Marisol’s case, it seems to allow her to penetrate a spell of concealment and see the hidden illusion. Marisol accuses Dragon who changes 2It also seems to allow her to see past my innate shapeshifting ability and see my true form.”

 

The beast stopped pacing and stared at me, waiting for me to signal my comprehension.

I gave a half-nod. “Okay, I think I understand that. But how does that allow others in her presence to see what she sees?”

Dragon cleared her throat. “That is the part of her power that would be referred to in some other worlds as causative or influencing magic. That power causes others to see what she sees, once she tells them what she sees.”

“Huh? I think you lost me again.”

Dragon sighed again. “If you will remember, no one saw the horses until Marisol said there were horses and pointed at them. And no one saw my true form until Marisol told them I was a dragon.”

I leaned forward and nodded. “I see. It’s not enough to merely be in the child’s presence. Someone has to hear her tell what she sees for them to see it.”

Dragon smiled again. “Exactly. That is the trigger that causes their ability to see. Thus, the term causative magic. It is also known as influencing magic, because she influences others to see what she sees through the telling.”

Bastina watches her daughterI narrowed my eyes in thought. “That would confirm what her mother said. Bastina mentioned that sometimes people think they see something her daughter has mentioned.”

Dragon nodded. “Yes. Bastina was very concerned about that.”

I frowned. “But you said she did not use an incantation. So how does she perform this magic feat?”

reactive magic“The child is most likely totally unaware of her power. It is simply there, an innate part of her. She does not consciously invoke her magic, it just happens.”

I heaved a deep sigh and took a few moments to consider this before asking Dragon, “So where does this magic come from?”

Dragon shrugged. “I have no idea. As I stated before, no such magic exists in my world. I have found no evidence of it existing here in your world, either.”

“Hmmm.” I furrowed my brow. “Just because the books you possess have no record of such magic in this world, it doesn’t mean such magic doesn’t exist here.”

Dragon nodded. “That is true. My ignorance of the existence of such magic is not proof that it does not exist. But for now, my research is complete.” She turned and started walking out of the room.

I jumped up and followed her. “Do you plan to continue researching this once you have rested? Are there sources other than your books you can use?”

Dragon grinned at me, a big, cheesy grin. “There is another source, but we will be doing the research.”

“We?” I blinked. “Do you want me to help you research it on my computer, checking references on the internet?”

Dragon placed a scaly hand on my arm. “We could do that. Or we could attend a meeting.”

I raised an eyebrow. “A meeting? Are we going to find a coven of witches to visit?”

coven

CrawfordDragon scoffed. “Hardly. I told you the child is not a witch. No, I think we join a writers’ group. We need to speak to a certain writer – what was his name? Crawford?”

griffinThe beast chuckled at my blank stare, then explained. “Perchance he and his griffin have encountered such magic and could share their knowledge with us. Or mayhap one of the other members of his group could reveal something. You should find when next this group meets.”

Dragon staggered off to get some sleep, leaving me staring out into space, thinking about Crawford and the griffin he purported to have. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/17/not-exactly-deja-vu-all-over-again/

Perhaps Dragon was right. Perhaps this man, allegedly a fellow writer of fantasy, could possess knowledge that would explain Marisol’s powers. It wouldn’t hurt to explore the possibility. After all, he certainly seemed to not only be aware of Dragon’s existence here, but to understand it.

I turned and went back to my office to research this writers’ group he mentioned. Now where did he say they met?writer's group

 

Does Crawford really have a griffin? If so, will he and his griffin have any knowledge of Marisol’s unique power? And what about the other writers in his group? Come back next week and see. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Jean Rabe Has Done it Again!

Jean Rabe Has Done it Again!

Cleric healing DragonIt took Dragon several days, and many doses of Cleric’s healing herbs, to recuperate. After Marisol and her mother had departed, Dragon had collapsed, weak as a kitten. She had used vast stores of her energy and strength resisting Marisol’s not inconsiderable power.Dragon doing research

Now, Dragon was sequestered in the conference room with her scrolls, books, grimoires, and potions, trying to discover what the child might really be, the conceivable extent of her powers, and whence she acquired such power.

While awaiting Dragon’s results, I took the opportunity to do some reading. One of my favorite authors, Jean Rabe, had just released a new book, and I had downloaded it onto my computer e-book app. I was sitting on the living room couch enjoying it when Cleric found me.Cleric sees me reading

“What are you reading, Mistress?” She tried to see the screen of my laptop.

Cleric looks at laptop 2

I held it so she could look. “Jean Rabe’s new release – The Dead of Summer. It’s the third book in her Piper Blackwell mystery series.”

Cleric’s face lit up. “Oh, Dragon will want to read that once she has completed her research on Marisol. This is an author Dragon particularly likes. And I wish to read it after she has completed it.”

I gave Cleric a curious look. “Oh? I didn’t know you read mysteries.”

Cleric smiled. “I do not have time for much recreational reading. However, Dragon liked this author so much, I had to start reading her books to see what Dragon was raving about. When I was finished with them, I passed them on to Sorceress, who passed them on to your Gypsy lad and your Young Hero. I think everyone has read them now, with the possible exception of your Arrogant One.”

My eyes widened. “That surprises me. I had to convince Dragon to give Jean’s mysteries a chance. When she initially read the first one, she hated it.” I laughed.

Cleric’s cornflower eyes shone with mirth. “I remember. No dragons.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/

I nodded. “Dragon had read many of Jean’s fantasy books and was so disappointed with the mystery. She didn’t see the point of a book with no dragons, no magic. I’m glad she changed her mind.”

“Me, too.” Cleric settled in a nearby chair. “Else, I might never have discovered the delights of this author’s mysteries.”Joining the conversation

“What author are we discussing?” My Gypsy and Sorceress entered the room, simultaneously dropping into chairs and the conversation.Jean

“Jean Rabe.” Cleric bounced with excitement.

“Oh, I love the details she includes in her books.” My Gypsy leaned forward. “Her books in the genre you term fantasy are truly inspired. I believe she may have actually visited some of the worlds of which she has written. But even more, I enjoy her mysteries set in this world, the one you refer to as the real world. The particulars of her character’s daily lives and routines not only add flavor and charm, they have helped me better understand the people of your world and their idiosyncrasies.”

“She has just released the third book in her Piper Blackwell mystery series, and Mistress is reading it.” Cleric turned to me. “What did you say it is called?”

The Dead of Summer.” I turned the laptop so everyone could see it.

Showing laptop image to my characters

The Dead of Summer? That sounds intriguing.” Sorceress tilted her head, a half-frown pulling at her mouth. “But I am not sure I understand. The titles of her other two books in this series – The Dead of Night and The Dead of Winter – are common phrases in your language. As I understand it, the dead of night is the middle of the night, the quietest and darkest part of the night. The dead of winter is the middle of that season, when the nights are longest, and the temperatures are low. But I have never heard the idiom dead of summer.”

County FairI nodded. “I don’t think it’s a common expression, just a clever turn of phrase. The Dead of Summer starts with a deadly accident at a county fair. County fairs are the epitome of summer for a lot of people, one of the things they most identify with summer, especially in a rural area like the part of Indiana where this series of books takes place. So, the victims of this fatal accident are the dead of summer. So is the murder victim that is discovered later in the book.”

“Wow.” My Gypsy whistled. “Two intertwined mysteries? It sounds like Mistress Rabe has written another excellent book.”

Again, I nodded. “There’s a reader’s review on one of the book sites that agrees with that.” I brought it up on my laptop and read it to my characters.

Jean Rabe has done it again! Her third Piper Blackwell mystery, The Dead of Summer, is a real page-turner, and a worthy addition to the series!

The heart-stopping action erupts in the first sentence of the book and never slows down, keeping readers breathless and on the edge of their seats as novice sheriff Piper Blackwell and her small department are thrown into two major cases with tendrils reaching out far from their rural Indiana locale.

Whether you’re a fan of police procedurals, cozy mysteries, well-written and believable characters, or just darn good writing, you’ll become a fan of Jean Rabe and Sheriff Piper Blackwell. I can’t wait for the next one in this series!

Is she a witch“Oh, I cannot wait to read this one!” Cleric clapped her hands. “I hope Dragon takes a long time with her research on Marisol. Maybe then I can read the book after you, Mistress.” Cleric gave me a hopeful look.

I smiled. “Well, if Dragon was not tied up with her research, maybe she could create some illusory laptops so you could all read the book without waiting.”

Illusory laptops

“Like she created the illusory cameras for everyone!” My Gypsy grinned and nodded his understanding. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/a-change-of-pace/

“It is unfortunate Dragon may be occupied for quite some time with her research.” Sorceress made a moue.

Arrogant One full bodyI wrinkled my brow in thought. “My Arrogant One is an illusionist. Is this something he is capable of handling?”

Sorceress snorted. “That buffoon?”

Cleric tittered. “I do not believe the elf capable of creating an illusion of such advanced technology that would be solid and substantial enough to function properly.”

“Perhaps not on his own.” My Gypsy waggled his eyebrows and grinned. “But I wager with our help, he could manage it.”

My characters instantly took their leave to search for my Arrogant One, and I settled back to read The Dead of Summer.

reading

“The gut-punching clang of metal striking metal merged with the screams of fairgoers. Sheriff Piper Blackwell whirled toward the sound, swearing World War III had broken out in Spencer County…”

While Dragon does her research to find out what Marisol is, and to identify the source of the incredible power the child appears to wield, why not join me in reading Jean Rabe’s excellent series? You can follow the adventures of Sheriff Piper Blackwell in The Dead of Winter, The Dead of Night, and Jean’s latest release, The Dead of Summer. These and other books by Jean Rabe can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. And you can find Jean’s website at https://jeanrabe.com/, where you can subscribe to her newsletter.

Come back next week and see if Dragon has made any headway researching our latest mystery. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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What Is She?

What Is She?

Bastina“Marisol? Marisol! Are you there?”

I looked up and saw Marisol’s mother, Bastina, standing in our side yard. She was craning her neck and trying to see around the deck and gazebo.Marisol, Dragon and Cleric

I waved at her. “She’s here!” I gestured toward the small child, who was standing next to the gazebo under the intense scrutiny of Dragon (in her accustomed guise of an elf maiden) and Cleric. “Come on back!”Taking Marisol by the hand

Bastina hurried over to her daughter and took her hand as she addressed me. “I’m so sorry! I rang your doorbell, but there was no answer. I saw the sheriff’s car pull out of here a few moments ago, and I was worried when I couldn’t find Marisol.”

Marisol accuses Dragon first time“I came to see if I would be allowed to pet the horses, Mommy.” Marisol’s little face was crumpled in disappointment. “But the horses are gone. I think the dragon sent them away.” She pointed an accusing finger at Dragon, who started to shimmer and shapeshift to her true form.

Bastina’s eyes widened, but the shimmering stopped almost as swiftly as it started. The woman quickly composed herself, and I hoped she had not seen anything.

refreshments 2“Would you like some refreshments? We still have plenty of iced tea and cake.” I smiled at the nervous woman and gestured toward an empty chair on the gazebo.

Bastina looked at the refreshments set out on the table. “Oh, you’re expecting company! Marisol and I should leave.”

“No, we’re not expecting anyone else. Two of our other neighbors – Mace and Gloria – were here earlier, engaging in some backyard birdwatching with us, but they just left.Marisol accuses Dragon second time

Marisol giggled. “You should have seen the lady, mommy! She fainted when the dragon stopped hiding.” She pointed at Dragon again, and this time it took a bit longer for the beast to control her shapeshifting.

This time, I was sure Bastina had seen something. Her eyes were wide, and she pulled her daughter closer to her.

I pasted a forced smile onto my face, and beckoned mother and daughter to the chairs next to me. “Wouldn’t you like a piece of cake, Marisol? If you don’t like iced tea, maybe Dray could find some milk for you.”

“Dray?” The little girl wrinkled her brow.

I pointed to Dragon.

“Oh, you mean the dragon.” Marisol giggled.

Marisol accuses Dragon againFor a split secondThis time, Dragon struggled in vain to control her shapeshifting. As we all watched, the beautiful maiden began to shimmer. Then a large dragon stood next to Cleric, morphing from blue to red. It was a very long moment before the shimmering stopped, and Dragon was back to her customary guise. She had more than a hint of surprise on her delicate features.

fearSurprise was not the word I would use for Bastina’s expression. Abject terror would come closer; still, even those words couldn’t adequately describe the look of horror and shock on the woman’s face as she collapsed into a chair.

I poured her a glass of iced tea, trying to act as if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred.

Dragon smiled at Marisol. “I will go get you a glass of milk, child. Then I think we should talk.”

Marisol nodded.

Birdwatching“So.” I struggled to make conversation. I gestured toward the binoculars, field guide, and camera sitting on a second table nearby. “Are you interested in birdwatching?”

Bastina gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head, and she seemed to have trouble speaking. “N . . . no. Well, I mean, I d . . . do love birds. I . . . I love all animals, really. But I’ve . . . I’ve never spent any time actively observing them.”

“I do.” Marisol pirouetted and smiled broadly. “I spend a lot of time actively observing animals. And people, too. And dragons.” She giggled again as Dragon returned with a tall glass of milk. This time, Dragon remained in her guise, seemingly effortlessly. I wondered what had changed.

“Well, little miss, why do you not come up here and sit with this fierce old dragon and drink your milk? I will cut you a slice of cake to go with it. Which would you prefer – orange chiffon or chocolate?” Dragon smiled at the little girl who immediately joined Dragon and Cleric on the Gazebo.

milk and cake for Marisol“May I have a large slice of the orange chiffon, please? I really like orange, and I do not care for chocolate at all.” Marisol reached for the glass and took a big swallow of milk.

Bastina anxiously watched her daughter but started to relax when Dragon remained in her non-beastly guise.

“Your daughter’s manners are most impressive.” Cleric smiled at Bastina, who glowed with maternal pride. “I do not think we had the opportunity to properly introduce ourselves when we met earlier. My name is Clara. My sister, Dray, and I are Missy’s cousins.”

Missy? I must have misunderstood.” Bastina’s brow furrowed. “I thought I caught your name as Marge.”

“It is Marge, but you know how it is with pet names among family. They’ve always called me Missy, as far back as I can remember.” I smiled tightly.

iced tea and cake for Bastina“May I cut you a slice of cake, too, Bastina?” Dragon held the cake knife and indicated the two desserts.

“Yes, thank you. I would prefer the chocolate, please. I confess to being a chocoholic.” The woman smiled wistfully at her daughter. “Marisol does not share many of my tastes.”

“I don’t look like mommy, either.” Marisol noted, after swallowing a mouthful of cake. “I more closely resemble my father.”Deputies arrive

Before I could comment, Bastina changed the subject. “So why was the sheriff’s car here earlier?”

Marisol started laughing. “The man was all upset when the lady he was with fainted. He called the police on his cell phone. When the officers got here, the lady was so funny! She was screeching at the officers, and they got mad at her and the man. The man and woman went home as soon as the officers left.”

Bastina looked at me and raised her eyebrow questioningly.

I could feel my cheeks grow warm. “It was a misunderstanding. As your daughter said, Mace got upset when Gloria fainted.”

“Why did she faint?”

“I think she had a touch of heat stroke.” I hoped I sounded convincing.

Marisol accuses DragonMarisol laughed again. “She fainted when she saw the dragon.” The child pointed at Dragon again, but nothing happened.

I let out a huge sigh of relief. “How’s the cake, Marisol? Would you like Dray to cut you another piece?”

Marisol looked at her mother for approval before nodding. “Yes, please. This is delicious.”

Bastina leaned toward me and spoke in a whisper. “Did the woman see anything? Something that might have caused her to faint?”

I blinked. “Whatever do you mean?”

Bastina watches her daughterBastina smoothed her napkin and folded her hands tightly in her lap. She frowned and chewed on her lower lip for a moment before answering. “I . . . I don’t really know how to explain it. Sometimes . . .” Her voice trailed off and she sat there staring at her daughter.

“Sometimes people think they see something your daughter has mentioned?” Dragon gave Bastina a knowing look.

Bastina gaped at Dragon. “Why . . . why, yes! That’s what happens . . . sometimes. How did you know?”

“Oh, I have some experience with children. Occasionally, when a youngster has an exceptionally active imagination, their . . . enthusiasm . . . causes others to imagine they see the same things the child claims to see. It is a sort of sympathetic reaction.”

“Really?” Bastina seemed relieved. “Then, it is normal?”

Dragon nodded, and Bastina visibly relaxed, tucking into her cake with gusto.

Is she a witch“Mommy always worries about me.” Marisol looked at her mother sadly. “I tease her and my Aunt Danica that they’re witches because they’re always brewing their herbal concoctions, but mommy fears I might actually be a witch. I’m adopted, you see, and mommy doesn’t know much about my bi . . . bio . . .”

“Your real parents?” Dragon prompted the little girl.

Marisol frowned and shook her head. “Mommy is my real parent. She chose me, and she is the one who takes care of me. No, I mean my bio . . .”

“Biological parents.” Bastina said softly.

Marisol nodded sagely. “Yes, my bio-logical parents. They’re the ones who created me, but they aren’t my real parents. For some reason, they gave me away. Maybe they died, and there were no other family members who could care for me, or maybe they just didn’t want me. Maybe they created me by accident and didn’t know what to do with me. So, mommy adopted me, and she’s my real parent.”

“I see you’ve discussed this at length with Marisol.” I tilted my head and looked at the little girl, and then at her real mother. “She has a very good understanding of adoption for one so young.”

Bastina nodded. “I’ve never hidden it from her. I wanted her to know that she was special, and I chose her to be my child.”Cleric and Marisol

“Do you remember your biological parents at all, Marisol?” Cleric studied the little girl closely.

Marisol scrunched her eyebrows down and stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth as she considered the question. “Not really. I was just a baby when mommy adopted me. Why?”

“Well, you mentioned that you resemble your father. Were you referring to your biological father, or your real father?” Cleric took a sip of her tea.

“I don’t have a real father. Mommy isn’t married. But it’s something she and I say when people comment on the lack of resemblance between me and mommy.”

Cleric nodded.

Taking Marisol by the hand“Well, we want to thank you for your hospitality, but Marisol and I really should get home. We’re going over to the farm this afternoon. I’m working at the herb shop.” Bastina stood up and beckoned to Marisol.

The little girl turned to me. “Thank you so much for the cake and milk. May I help clear the dishes before mommy and I leave?”

Dragon waved her off. “Oh, that will not be necessary, child. Clara and I will take care of that. When you get to be old like us, it helps to keep busy. You run along and have fun with your mommy at the farm.”

Marisol giggled. “Dragons live for a very long time, don’t they? How old are you?”

“Marisol! It’s rude to ask someone their age!” Her mother’s tone was sharp, and she blushed furiously. “Please excuse my daughter.”

Marisol accuses Dragon 2Dragon winked at Bastina. “Do not apologize for the child. It is never rude to ask a dragon their age.” She turned to Marisol and replied in a stage whisper. “I am several centuries old.”

Marisol laughed, and Bastina seemed relieved as they departed.Dragon collapses

As soon as they were out of earshot, Dragon toppled into a chair. She grew pale and her breathing was labored. “That child has amazing power! It drained every bit of my strength and energy to counter her magic.”

Is she a witch 2I gaped at Dragon. “You mean she really is a witch? Then that bit you told Bastina about people having a sympathetic reaction causing them to see things the child mentioned was untrue.”

Dragon shook her head. “No, not a witch. Something else. I need to do my research. And, yes the sympathetic reaction of which I spoke was untrue, just something to put the woman’s mind at ease. But I am on the verge of collapse. For now, I need to sleep, to rejuvenate and regain my strength. We will talk when I awaken.”

“I will prepare some of my healing herbs for you before you sleep.” Cleric helped Dragon to her feet, and they slowly made their way to the house, Dragon leaning heavily on Cleric.

I remained on the gazebo, lost in thought. What power could this child have so great as to drain all of Dragon’s considerable power, and where did she acquire it?

magic energy trace

 

Will Dragon discover just what Marisol is, and what power the child possesses? Be sure to come back next week and find out. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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It Was a Nightmare!

It Was a Nightmare!

It was a nightmare! No, actually it wasn’t. It might have been better if it was.

Marisol points out the horses

Marisol had pointed at the illusory horses, and a carefree afternoon of birdwatching had come to an abrupt end. Mace and Gloria had seen the horses. They had also seen Dragon in her true form. Gloria had screamed and fainted, and Mace was currently yelling into his cell phone. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/28/i-see-a-big-problem-here/

 

wide-eyedDwarf facing right

I caught a few words as Mace frantically hollered at someone on the phone . . . police . . . situation . . . When I heard him give my address and heard the word dangerous, I rounded on my Old Dwarf. “Go! Grab my Foreman and the lads and get out of here!”

Immediately grasping the urgency of the situation, the dwarf hot-footed it for the shed, grabbing the other three as he ran.

Very blue dragonI turned toward my remaining two characters. “Dragon!” I got no response. The befuddled creature was standing there, a very blue version of her true self, with smoke bubbles dripping from her snout at an alarming rate.

Cleric twisting cord beltCleric tried to help. She jabbed her friend in the side. “Dragon! Dragon!” I could hear the panic in Cleric’s voice, but there was no response from Dragon, who continued to stand there dripping smoke bubbles and staring off into space.

Dragon!” I grabbed the beast’s scaly arm and shook it. Slowly, Dragon seemed to come out of her muddled state. She blinked and looked at me.

I shook her arm again. “Dispel the illusions. Eliminate the horses and barn! And change from your true form. Quickly!

Deputies arriveYard looks normalIt took a few minutes before Dragon’s brain caught up with my instructions, but by the time a sheriff’s department car roared into our driveway, sirens blaring and lights flashing red and blue, the yard looked normal and Dragon was no longer in her beastly form.

County Sheriff’s deputies Melody Whitewash and Dustin Dawg, whom we knew from previous dealings, raced into the backyard, guns drawn. “Everyone stand where you are. Put your hands in the air. Now!”Weapons drawn

I wasn’t completely certain which deputy had growled the orders, but I wasn’t going to argue with either one of them. Apparently, Cleric and Dragon had also decided discretion was the better part of valor. We stood as still as statues on the gazebo, barely breathing, with our hands raised high.

After looking around and seeing no immediate threat to themselves or anyone else, the two deputies lowered their weapons, but did not go so far as to holster them. Deputy Whitewash kept a close eye on everyone, as Deputy Dawg stepped forward.

Deputy Dawg“Okay, put your hands down . . . slowly.” Deputy Dawg glowered at me and my characters.Deputy Whitewash

Deputy Whitewash gave us a disgusted look. “Every time there’s trouble in this neighborhood, we know who’s going to be in the middle of it.”

Her partner nodded. “So, what seems to be the problem this time? Dispatch said it was a dangerous situation, proceed with extreme caution.” He glared at me.

I shrugged.

Deputy Dawg frowned. “Who called it in?”

Gloria fainted“I did!” Mace was standing next to the gazebo, propping up his wife, whose legs were still too rubbery for her to stand unaided.

Deputy Dawg nodded curtly. “Mace! Good man. So, what’s going on?”

Gloria tells what happened“I’ll tell you what’s going on!” Gloria somehow found enough strength to pull herself away from her husband’s support. She staggered but managed to stand on her own two feet. As soon as she was stable, she started shrieking. Her high register and extreme decibel level could put my Arrogant One to shame. “They have horses here again! A whole herd of them! And there was a huge creature here, too – some kind of weird lizard with blue scales and smoke bubbles pouring from its snout!”

Deputy Dawg and Deputy Whitewash both snickered and rolled their eyes at Gloria while they holstered their pistols.

“Gloria, have you been . . . imbibing?” Deputy Whitewash said it gently, but with an unmistakable undertone of scorn.

“I have not!” Gloria put her hands on her hips and glared at the deputy, who backed off, raising her hands in apology.

“Well, how do you explain it, then?” Deputy Dawg was not so gentle. “You’re staggering around making wild claims . . .

“Wild? Wild?” Gloria scoffed.

“Wild.” Deputy Dawg scowled. “Where are the horses? Where’s this big, blue lizard? There are serious penalties for making a false report to law enforcement authorities, you know!”

“There were horses.” A small voice drew the attention of the deputies. Marisol stood between the deputies and the gazebo, looking very solemn.Marisol and Officer Whitewash

Deputy Whitewash knelt next to the child. “And who are you?” She smiled and appeared to be trying her best to seem unintimidating. I thought she needn’t bother. The child seemed pretty hard to intimidate.

“My name is Marisol. I live with my mommy, over on the next street. I came here to see if I would be allowed to pet the horses.”

“Horses?” Deputy Whitewash tilted her head. “I don’t see any horses.” She gestured at the yard, where the only animals in evidence were birds, rabbits, and chipmunks.

“There were horses.” Marisol stomped her foot and scowled at the deputy. “Just not a whole herd, like the hysterical lady said.” The little girl raised her hands and put air quotes around the words whole herd, and she crinkled her nose at Gloria.

Horses by barnGloria gave Marisol a withering look, but the child ignored her and continued speaking earnestly to the deputy. “There were just three horses. One was a big, powerful-looking horse, the color of ob . . . ob . . . obsidian.” The little girl struggled with the word. “I think he may be a Friesian. The second horse was a black-and-white pinto. That one looked like a Gypsy Vanner with long, feathery hair on its legs. And the third one was a small, saucy-looking chocolate palomino pony.”

“My, my, my!” Deputy Whitewash raised an eyebrow at the child. “Such vivid descriptions! You certainly seem to know a lot about horses!” She stood and walked back toward her partner, her mouth twisting into a sardonic smile.

Marisol reveals DragonMarisol smiled widely. “They’re my favorite animals. Except for dragons.” The child turned toward Gloria. “The creature you saw wasn’t a lizard. It was a dragon. It was her.” She pointed to a very un-dragonlike Dragon, standing quietly on the gazebo with an angelic look on her face. “She can change colors, too. She’s much prettier with red scales than with blue.”

For a split secondEveryone looked at Dragon. For a split second, the beautiful maiden seemed to shimmer. For a split second, a large dragon seemed to be standing next to Cleric, morphing from blue to red. That split second felt like an eternity to me. Then just as quickly as it began, the shimmering stopped, and Dragon was back to her customary guise, with just a hint of surprise on her delicate features.

Mace, Gloria, and the two deputies did a double take. A small shriek escaped from Gloria, and Mace made a noise like he had just had the wind knocked out of him. Deputies Dawg and Whitewash blinked rapidly, rubbed their eyes, and gaped at Dragon for a long moment.

Warning MaceFinally, Deputy Dawg shook his head and snorted. “Okay, little girl, that’s enough of your preposterous stories.” He turned back to Mace and Gloria. “I don’t know what your game is, but we don’t have time for this nonsense. Call us out again for something outlandish like this, Mace, and you’ll be the guest of the county for a good, long stretch.”

The two deputies turned as one and marched in perfect cadence back to their vehicle, mumbling and grumbling. They backed out of our driveway, tires squealing, and took off down the street, quickly disappearing around the curve.

Once the protection of the armed officers was gone, Mace and Gloria lost no time exiting the yard toward the safety of their own house. Wide-eyed and shaking, they gave me and my characters a wide berth as they raced past.

“Well. That was exciting.” I collapsed onto a chair.

“What happened to the horses?” Marisol’s little face crumpled. “I really wanted to pet the horses.”

Cleric and Dragon stared at the child. “What are you, child?” Dragon murmured, as she narrowed her eyes and studied Marisol. “How do you do what you do?”

Staring at Maarisol

 

So, what is Marisol? How does she do what she does? Join us again nest week as we explore this troubling mystery. We’ll leave the lights on for you.

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